from HOURGLASS STUDIES

VI

1. Nasturtium trumpets, faded goldfish, tumble down and chaos becomes a favorite word in the house where entropy refracts company.

2. Autumn crumpled into a paper ball unfolded in candlelight impatiently: The gardeners are tired and dream of winter.

3. The forearm tied with russet [silk] gives in to grammar, the porch of lighthouse-gather.

4. Poetic words: trees to hide between: changing time: chopped down: not timing the future, upcoming bend.

5. The watch buried in the sewer, forgetting the way to go there to say. Car horns pierce Thursday with hurry. The outline of the [human] [subject] can’t be excised.

6. Experiment in poetry means. . .

7. To rhyme would give credence, an echo to resound through time; the stone skipped back through the river.

8. Disappearing but moving, the train receding, haunts afternoons with a crash. The sleeper in slow motion approaching [the] sublime.

9. The puppeteer’s drunk fingers [undoing _________], too heavy with fright.

10. The other turn led through the abandoned garden because of no one’s fault. The drought caused those tired to move on because the gardener loved bones.

11. Abstract persona [anonymous] eating ennui.

12. Wrists ache for a paintbrush to supersede the photograph. Neck falls to confound interval, whispers to the knees to straighten and heal, forget the long winter up ahead.

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AUGUST VILLANELLE – VARIABLES

I wake to sleep

and sleep to wake

waking thus

seizing that

ceasing night’s film      cascade —

micro bits        orchestrated

without sound    —  [Why is there no sound

in sleep, no over-arching score –

in the façade of being

there

here, I mean?

Everything fallen

everything still

awake?]

 

The small birds no longer sleeping

keeping watch

for hawk

in the improvised bird bath

before night’s rain is tipped over

or evaporates     in    summer   heat

 

The thin coyote sick

the sick clutching sleep’s microfiche

of distillations

the finest hours —

and then to wake

awkward

when to let

go

drop

the now-heavy objects

break the plane of knowing

anything

with eloquence

 

Object the verdict

to the unarticulated

crimes

 

Climbing the back      of sky

sky-ing the waking

into an abstract

focus

on the plane

of being

transitive —

a new verb

for survival

for making

joy

 

How joyous    the tern    at the shore

in the microfilm

or so it seems

in seams of sentences

of waking

all the wounds       of waking

and     sleeping     sewn

quilted with staple   and gossamer

silver mercury    fish swim   underwater  light-dream

thus

the Book   –  a heavy cloak

a House   collapsed

by prayer —

offered

on     a

pillar

a pyre

 

High-er

sky-ing the why-s of departure

of wingspan’s

ache

 

The shoulders – a and z

e – the sin curve     of energy      dissipating

x – the noumena —  an unknown omnipresent    variable

y – the syllables the syllables   alas

 

I could go on

but I wake to sleep

and drink    z – zymosis

some unknown    poetry

the cloud-shrouded

sun

—-

sum.

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AUGUST TAKES THE SUN

inch by inch backwards

still inchworm green potato vine
spilling the patina-ed urn

cracked by last winter
perfunctorily glued.

The lilac and white butterfly spears
beckon the pair of yellow finches and sleepy queen bee
taken down by torrential rainfall.

Tomorrow I shall wake surprised
and be better at everything—myself, my doorways of paper folded carefully
into sailboats and morning doves, eyes alert searching daybreak

for worthy questions
of travel micro-behaviors grandiose thoughts
the flamingos perched at some other shore contemplating herring.

But tonight I will allow myself lazy wanderings
lie back in the hammock study the dead ancient pine
cradled in another pine’s arms before
tomorrow’s $1,100 removal.

Yes, tomorrow I shall do and think everything
Better, more clearly.
I shall sit in my elaborate garden of petal flow and flowing tall grasses
Graced by the subtle summer wind.

I shall sit and tell you
everything.

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IMPERATIVE[S]

Proclaim WARRIOR Status.

Pluck the dead day lilies. The goldfish orange ones, crumpled, and still wet with death.

Press down hard when you sign the document for the multiple-color copies. [No. We’re sorry. No e-sign–and extra postage will be required.]

[Please note: you will also need the original manuscript certified by a licensed notary in your town. In person. Please bring five forms of picture ID. [See Appendix J for list of acceptable proof of identity.]]

Count the days until winter with as much bravado as humanly possible. Well, someone like you.

Winterize your favorite bench now as you will miss living outside on the garden patio.

Bench more weights for upper-body strength. Yes, you are deteriorating. Don’t whine.

Wait for T.S. Eliot to talk again.

Talk to the chipmunk who lives in your living room garage. Tell it to be very wary of the beautiful apricot fox sighted with a gyrating squirrel in its mouth as it trotted through the width of the property.

Outfox your demons that conspire against you while you are hardly sleeping.

Demonize your fears that gather at your footfall when you stand.

Fall back into early morning sunlight.

Light the paper lanterns at dusk with the proper batteries. Return the LED strings of lights that do not work.

Dust your work station. Carefully clean out the food crumbs in the keyboard and the cat vomit.

Partition individual strains of your disease and their attendant crescendoing thoughts.

Hold your arms out like a colossal bird. For at least sixty solid seconds.

Don’s second any scavenged plentitude.

Locate your favorite pen. The remote control, the only key to the joint safety deposit box, your only non-broken pair of sunglasses, the prescription bottle to see if there is a refill, the contact name for the removal of secret things.

Find your misfiled dreams on the broken hard drive.

Rearrange the unhappy flowers. Pluck the weak ones out and replace with cascading tiny petunia bells, peach color and that of coral.

Free the root-bound ones. Add nutrients to your own dirt.

Speak vociferously to the looming villages of dragons. Single each out for a good talking to if your armor does fail.

Mix more blue with the green, add white, and then yellow.

Repeat.

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CHINESE BOXES

I am time boxing–slating the hour, unit, segments, arcs, triangles, angles, parallelograms, fractals, Mobius strips, spheres.

There is just so much to do. You know.

Infinite syntaxes–Chinese boxes.

The intricate novel-quilt, Jacob’s magical cloak invented and upended to lead a lost people.

Box of coneflower, double-blossom daisy-frill, lavender butterfly spears of tiniest florets.

Box of necessary sunlight (thankfully muted for photophobic retinas)–layered with opal cloud-light that ruffle the cornflower blues–these last days of summer.

Box of travel–empty. For now.

Suitcase of Diaphanous text, asemic pictures from a point on the diagram-map across treacherous waters.

Document boxes—the appeal, the passport renewal, grant application, the dog license, insurance claim for the termites eating at the House–the dying, falling, ancient pine—that shan’t be covered.

Boxes of opening sky paintings—uncategorical color, dimensions in the distance one cannot touch.

Box of voices—the ghosts in the House, the dead inside—pleading “don’t forget me.”

Random buttons in a broken box of opaque glass—the latch rusted from being forgotten in the rain.

Box of plans—free-floating bucket lists.

Closets of notebooks—hidden behaviors–and the most personal of rituals.

Last night—I journeyed to the edges of time–and offered a humble sacrifice for all of us.

Yes, I confess—to the weeping and lying in the rain-slobbered grass the dog had frolicked in on his back earlier in the day as if to say–“touch and love me. Stay. Stay–as long as possible.”

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SWEEPING AGAIN

Lost, this.
Lost, thus.

Goddess of sleep
descends.
Stream-of-consciousness

wages a feeble war

to defy
her armor.

Her edges pull down
A tent for the now-superior
stupor.

The brain—an organ
of electro-chemical
relationships,
toxic or devoid.

Transactions
missing
syn-
apses,
useless
syntax.

The final lime green flickers
of fireflies, a sad excuse
to peel the eyes
for awareness.

I am sweeping, this.
Sweeping, thus.

The broken china
and depression glass
lemon lime pink amber
shards to scoop up into
tomorrow’s dustbin
or the garden bed’s
cheerful mosaic (music).

Wearing the sweater-shawl
my father darned
or the flannel jacket of blues and grays
like his stormy eyes—
the jacket from too-many days
in the hospital, too few of hospice.

I am sweeping, thus.
To stay busy, distracted
from too many storms
on the encroaching
horizon
beckoning
their chaos.

I have seen you, too,
at the dangerous peripheries
of imagination. An outlaw
to tell the future.
Tempting the impossible.

Don’t look so afraid.

I am reaping, this.
Weeding the meaningless
and riffraff, flotsam
and jetsam after the ship
crash
into the pillar-stones.

Tomorrow I shall plant new
ideas and things
I’ll dream tonight
when sleep comes
with her white-down
wings
comforting the lost,
the downtrodden,
the petrified.

Tomorrow I shall awake
like you
and forget

all I need.

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SATIN LIGHT

Early mornings with café con leche in the Poetry Garden with an assortment of titled notebooks and markers and pens. (Some are permanent. Some with blur in the rain when I forget to fetch them before sudden rainstorm.) Before the heat. Before others awake.

It is a sacred space like the rapids and the shore at high tide—where I feel at home again–after dark passageways, hours, through Lethe on a small, dilapidated wooden boat (built generations back)—searching for Alethia–in the storm of knowing things.

I find her hovering over the darkest waters in the pummeling rain–and grasp at her—clinging to her robes of satin light—knowing again–she will recede–when I turn my back to look at something frightening in the outer world or within. (The dying, colossal tree on my property that fell in the most recent torrential downpour and wind (that we cannot see, only its wake)—into the branches of the living tree next to it. A welcome distraction–and unfortunately, a metaphor.

Until I remembered the cost, the bank account, the worry of cutting back the brush for the workers to get at it (take it down gently) amidst the vines that climb and amazingly, can choke out a tree—amidst the poison oak, sumac, and/or ivy. (My doctor assures me that it doesn’t matter which—since the poisons are all treated the same—but for me, will take many months to desist)).

So I write this down to remember—the mornings of clarity and subsequent hope—that we all find her (Alethia)–and rediscover our love affair with the unfurling magenta of phlox next to the cascading chartreuse potato vine, the series of sky paintings, and ancient waters flowing with gravitational pull in a cycle that somehow keeps going, does not end. And find ourselves–what we have chosen to become in the labyrinth of what has been chosen for us, mapped by DNA, some Creator perhaps—a chess game with other forces—and the language we use to transcribe it, become. (Death, you are not winning yet. (Though you lurk in the wings for all.).)

I dreamed of my father in the earliest hours of morning. He was in a car crash. When I finally reached him. He explained that he was tired—and I said—Daddy, I know.

So I write this down. This early morning I think about the car crash months ago–and all that was exposed—that young doctor’s collapsed face after the MRI of the cervical spine. (O Oedipus, too bad you didn’t know.)—and set out to paint the satin light, the lighthouse green beacon—that says–Though you are exhausted by storm, it is safe somewhere up ahead.

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MERCURIAL

The silver-mercury train pierces night with fleeting clarity.

Write this down.

Dump the other notebooks you dug up in the woods (after days of torrential rains) this morning when night hadn’t yet given over (so no one would know)–into the sea.

Even the permanent metallic markers (you have so come to love): silver-blue, silver, silver-seafoam green, and silver-lilac—will blur into swirls of color in the salt water (the way blood swirls pink when the shark gets its prey)–before the narrow rule and graph paper pages are pummeled by high, rip, and neap tides.

No one else can understand your pilgrimage here. They all have their own.

Row out past the reefs to witness the schools of sardines shoaling. One direction. Then another. Though it makes you jealous. Their orchestration. That they are not alone.

Set the dead robin fish free. With that prayer you memorized. But now you are nervous and can’t remember the middle section. Improvise. Something meaningful, profound. Or just sing that lullaby your father sang to you (before he said his prayers on his knees by his bed) all those years ago.

The seagulls’ cries will pierce with their hunger. Swooping for the silver flickers in turquoise and aquamarine.

If you scream here or wail like a wild animal, no one will hear.

Try not to think so much. Become that painting in blues, greens, yellows, and whites—sunlight through clear, deep waters.

But your thoughts take off in diverse directions– galloping like the wild horses left on the shore by pirates five hundred years ago. They surge the sea-spray and the waves. Brown and olive seaweed caught in the chaos of their manes and hooves.

Think gather. Sum. Not separate, perforate, riven.

Try not to feel sorry for yourself. Embrace the porcupine of destiny’s whims written on the ancient map.

Laugh during the requisite sobbing.

Tell no one.

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THE MOON TONIGHT

Dusk returns. All the colors have changed. The French vanilla begonia appears a soft peach on the childhood picnic table bench; the first periwinkle flowers of one butterfly bush seem blue; phlox petals have taken on a tinge of lavender to blend with their bright fuchsia earlier when they began to open in waves.

The sea thistle will turn green-blue tomorrow morning, I am sure. Then silver as the July pages of the calendar flow.

All bird song has ceased as well as the frantic search for their fallen one. The hawks did witness and caw at the simple burial out front—their scalloped wings and silhouettes gliding up high.

I am holding on to things with aging hands.

Tonight I will light the paper lantern and lament the loss of most of the crickets this year that have probably, wisely, relocated to Canada.

If I were the moon rising in a mere hour or so, I would close my eyes. Tired, and all. And sleep in the burgeoning layers of cloud pillows.

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E C H O E S – [July 13, 2017]

Z:  Does it hurt very much?

A:  Yes.

 

Z:  How so?

A:  Everything hurts, darling.

 

Z:  You should talk about it. What it feels like. I want to feel it, too. And tell the others what is happening if I need to.

A:  I’d rather not think about it. Say it. Gardening, cleaning, puttering around the House, loving on the animals, writing, painting, playing my broken cello—my hands floating across the piano keys—It all distracts me.  I want to bury it, love. Out in the backyard with all my notebooks that I can’t read. They are too upsetting. But I have left their locations in the safety deposit box. I shall pay for another key to replace the one entrusted to me—that I misplaced, lost—among so many other things that I juggle. So many things, variables, and strange things, different things. I feel bad when a small percentage fall through the cracks. That I am not competent. But it’s a numbers game, no? Something’s gotta give.

 

Z:  So then—yes. It does hurt. I, too, feel its intensity. In the periphery, yet the bowels. Visceral. The underground-abyss. I have descended down to the depths to find you. Retrieve you. Be your Orpheus as I am too late to be your Virgil as I so want to be.

A:  It is difficult to speak of it. I don’t want to tell, admit to myself what is happening. Instead, I photograph and stay with the flowers, the multifarious colors of leaves, plants, herbs, lettuces and kale, Swiss chard, the ever-present, chattering / singing birds. They give to me so much. I must feed them. They visit. Adorn the Poetry Garden. Alight in pairs. Love Birds. The latest—a pair of delicate, yellow finches, I believe. Though it’s hard to forget. It’s hard to focus sometimes, darling. Though I try. My best college try. A noble effort. I long to be noble. But I am salt of the earth like my mother. Cerebral warrior like my father. I still miss him so much. Pray he is helping me. But sad that he sees me this way. Grateful I don’t have to see him seeing me. I still wail like a wild animal at moments that I cannot predict. That pull me under. You should know. Do not tell the others, especially my mother. Lost in her own grief. That lessens and reappears. Inserts itself.

 

Z:  Show me your hands again. Pretend you are holding a tennis ball as the X-ray technician from Italy instructed.

A:  It is difficult to look at them, my love. I try not to. I try not to obsess. Not to remember. Not to overuse them. I type and write by hand sparingly. I garden with tools when I can. They are visibly degenerating. Since the last X-rays six months ago. The kind doctor did not order more. So as not to upset me. There is nothing to do.

The tissues everywhere in my body give out.  The over-zealous soldiers mistake their own—a friendly fire-war. Painful to comprehend, imagine, follow.

 

Z:  You will learn to speak into a tape recorder. No one can predict when. But you shoud try. There is science. Research. Technology. Studies. Medications.

A:  Yes, it is science, yes. But so many unknowns. Holes. The world does not care. How could they? They do not know.

 

Z:  You must tell them.

A:  I am too tired.

All my energy–I conserve for my legacy. As pompous as that sounds. Every day is pure platinum. Every hour that I can identify, remember, rename as such. I am writing promises to myself, to you, to the others. I am Archiving the Future.

 

Z:  Does it hurt very much?

A:  Yes. It is a relief to tell someone. Particularly you. Do not be sad. Part of my unknown DNA. I have accepted. I tell myself. I have accepted. There is nothing to be done to stop the decay.

 

Z:  Perhaps in the future.

A: Yes, perhaps.

 

Z:  You must believe.

A: Yes, I must.

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